An active methane hydrate seep site at Southern Hydrate Ridge. Emanating out of the cavity in the sediments are bubbles from gas hydrate dissociation within the shallow sediments. Photo credit: NSF-OOI/UW/CSSF
The benthic flow meter measures the velocity of fluids flowing into and out of the seafloor at methane seep sites, which is critical to determining the amount (flux) of methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other gases that are emitted into the overlying ocean. Methane is especially important because it is a greenhouse gas, and it and other gases support novel microbial communities that thrive in and on the seafloor at these sites (as well as in the overlying ocean).
Three of these instruments are now installed at the summit of Southern Hydrate Ridge - see